The Aberdeen Wings had a two-goal lead midway through the third period Friday night, but two quick goals and an even quicker goal in the overtime period sealed the Wings’ fate Friday night at the Odde Ice Center as they lost 4-3 to the Austin Bruins.
Aberdeen got off to a quick start when Adam Shuchart fired the puck, which bounced off the back wall and into the crease — and Anthony Galante was right there to put it past Austin netminder Klayton Knapp at the 4:05 mark in the opening period. Galante got his seventh goal of the season, while Shuchart grabbed his first assist on the year.
The Bruins got one back when Austin Salini scored at the 12:26 mark later in the period, but Aberdeen got the lead again two minutes later. That’s when Cade Neilson picked the pocket of a Bruins skater deep in their zone, skated in and fed the puck back to Jacob Bosse, who fired the one-timer from the middle of the circle. Bosse picked up his twelfth goal on the year, while Neilson racked up his league-leading 46th assist.
After a fairly even opening period, the Wings outshot the Bruins 12-10 and headed into the first break with the one-goal cushion.
It took Neilson just 16 seconds into the middle period to double the lead. A bouncing puck behind the Austin net found its way to the middle of the circles, where Neilson was there to fire it home for his 22nd goal of the season; Bosse grabbed his 22nd apple on the play.
The game’s physicality picked up in the middle period, with the Wings on the power play twice and a stint of four-on-four hockey after coincidental penalties. The Bruins ramped up shots on goal, taking ten while holding Aberdeen to seven, but the Wings held the 3-1 lead heading into the final period.
“We got on the board early. That was good. That’s what we want,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said. “It felt like the first was an evenly-contested period. The second period goal was another good start and put us in a good position. But we had a tough seven-minute stretch in the third when we were playing on our heels.”
Austin got their first goal of the period when Sutter Muzzatti scored at the 13:43 mark, and Walter Zacher tied the game just 37 seconds later. The Wings took a penalty late in the period and even came up with a great shorthanded look, but the score remained tied at three apiece when the game’s horn sounded.
And Carson Riddle got the game winner just 43 seconds into the overtime period, securing two league points for his team, while the Wings grab a single point on the weekend.
Overall, Aberdeen outshot the Bruins 36-31 while going 0-3 on the power play and killing off a single penalty. Wings goaltender Anton Castro denied 27 of the 31 shots he faced.
Neilson and Bosse each had a multi-point night with a goal and an assist each; Neilson’s 66 total points is currently tied for fourth overall in the North American Hockey League.
“They’re a line that eats a lot of minutes for us,” Jennings said. “Generally, they put us on the positive side of the ledger most nights and set a good example for the team.”
Looking ahead at Saturday’s rematch, Jennings said he’d like to see a lot of the good things he saw tonight.
“We don’t need a complete overhaul,” he said. “We just need to tighten up some things. We need to play the same way, with confidence. We can get the win tomorrow but we’ll have to do it the right way.”
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday night at the Odde with the puck scheduled to hit the ice at 7:15 p.m. Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, or at the the door. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
Saturday’s game features the Wings’ annual teddy bear toss, which benefits the Yelduz Shrine organization. They’ll be the game’s corporate sponsor inside the AutoMaxx party deck and will collect the bears following the Wings’ first goal. Fans are also welcome to stick around after the game for our final jersey auction of the year, in which fans can bid on taking home this season’s away jerseys.
“It’s a huge night, with the jersey auction and the Shriners being there,” Jennings said of Saturday’s contest. “Saturday night at the Odde is always a great night and the fans create a great atmosphere for us. I hope they show up in droves. And bring a friend.”